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Calvin United Presbyterian participates for 2nd year in charity event

| Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, 9:02 p.m.
Paul Paterra | The Independent-Observer
Ruth Shannon (left), chairperson of the Calvin United Presbyterian Food Pantry, and her daughter Heather are with some of the items available at the food pantry as it readies for the Feinstein Challenge.

For the second straight year, Calvin United Presbyterian Church is participating in the Feinstein Challenge, which can only aid the emergency food pantry at 311 Mulberry St. increase its food stock to help those in need.

Allan Shawn Feinstein is a nationally known philanthropist and humanitarian from Rhode Island, who has been giving away $1 million each year for the past 16 years to anti-hunger agencies.

This year's challenge is scheduled from March 1-April 30. All donations of food and money are recorded and totaled for the challenge.

“This is a very special challenge,” said Ruth Shannon, who serves as chairwoman of the church's food pantry. “He gives a million dollars away every year to anyone that is involved with preventing hunger. Last year, he matched (whatever was collected) dollar for dollar. The minimum you get is $250, and the most you can get is $35,000. We're willing to take whatever we can.”

Calvin United Presbyterian's food bank received $251 from Feinstein in 2013. He is not expected to match dollar for dollar this year, but more public donations will result in a higher donation from Feinstein.

Since 1996, Feinstein has dedicated all of his time to philanthropic endeavors, focusing on the advancement of public service and the alleviation of hunger.

He founded the World Hunger Program at Brown University, the first university center to study and try to end the causes of hunger; launched the World Hunger Brigade, a program which encourages middle school students to study hunger and design programs to fight it; the Feinstein International Famine Center at Tufts University; which carries out projects designed to help reduce hunger in countries around the world, and the Center for a Hunger Free America at the University of Rhode Island.

“Whatever you donate to this agency I will add money to it. The more you give, the more of my $1 million they'll get,” Feinstein said in a press release regarding the challenge. “Why am I doing this? Because I believe each of us was put here on earth to do what we can to help those in need.”

Those who wish to donate should make checks out to Calvin United Presbyterian Church Food Pantry or may drop off food when the pantry is open from 9 a.m. until noon the first and third Wednesday of each month.

Shannon said the goal for this year's participation in the challenge is very simple, “to do better than last year, we raised $251 last year,” she said. “Any money is welcome, but we always want to increase.”

Then again, the goal of the church as an emergency food pantry is quite simple, “feed the hungry in Scottdale until there are no more hungry.”

Shannon said the food pantry is in need of canned meats, spaghetti sauce, soups, other than chicken noodle; dried cereal, canned carrots and potatoes and canned fruit.

There are many items that are always in supply at the food pantry such as peanut butter and jelly, and macaroni and cheese. Shannon added peanut butter and jelly is always welcome.

All of the donations to the church are “gathered locally and given locally.” The food pantry primarily serves those who live within the boundaries of the Southmoreland School District, but there can be exceptions.

“We would never turn somebody away,” Shannon said. “If they said they had a dire need for food, I would give them food.”

Shannon said the food pantry served 45 families in 2013.

Paul Paterra is a staff editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-887-6101 or